Global market for fitness trackers soars in Q3 – spurred by China growth

The latest International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker report shows an increase in total shipment volume of wearables for Q3 to 21.0 million units, up nearly 200% on the same period in 2014.

Fitbit relied on its popular Fitbit Charge and Fitbit Surge models to maintain its global leadership. The company also saw continued growth within the Asia/Pacific and Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) markets. Fitbit is our choice for the best wearable device in 2015. The company has recently announced three new features to make exercise tracking easier.

IDC research analyst Jitesh Ubrani sees several factors working in the brand’s favor. “They’ve done a great job at spreading awareness and targeting the growing segment of fitness trackers,” he says.

“Apart from great devices, Fitbit’s partnerships with fitness- and health-focused companies and their growing distribution network have been key in maintaining their lead.”

Apple posted a slight increase from the previous quarter, mostly the result of additional markets and channels coming on line. A recent survey by Juniper Research has found that smartphone users consider Apple the ‘coolest wearable brand’.

Xiaomi’s inexpensive Mi Band buoyed volumes higher during the quarter, with a vast majority of its volumes shipping into China. The wearable can now be purchased in seven markets in Asia and — courtesy of a recent extension of its Mi.com store — the US, UK, France and Germany. Since the release of its first smartphone in August 2011, Xiaomi has steadily gained market share. The company has now announced the Mi Band 1S – a $16 fitness tracker that uses a light-based PPG (photoplethysmography) sensor to measure your body’s blood flow.

It’s going to take more than just price to be a leader in the market,” says Ubrani, who says that while the Mi Band is already available in the U.S., Xiaomi’s sales volume in the states has been low. “In order for this to change, they have to exponentially increase marketing and distribution.”

Garmin’s focus on citizen athletes with wearables for running, golf, swimming, hiking, and aquatics kept the company well entrenched as the clear number four vendor worldwide. Chinese vendor XTC, a subsidiary of BBK, beat Samsung for the number five position by 100,000 units in its worldwide debut.

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“The early stages of the wearables market have led to tight competition among the leading vendors, and Chinese vendors have seized upon market momentum to grab market share,” noted Ramon Llamas , Research Manager for IDC’s Wearables team.

“China has quickly emerged as the fastest-growing wearables market, attracting companies eager to compete on price and feature sets. In addition, multiple vendors have experimented with a broad range of products and applications. The challenge, however, is whether these vendors can expand their presence, as few have extended beyond the country’s borders and into other markets.”

While smart watches have drawn increased attention since the release of the Apple Watch, this has not dampened interest in fitness trackers. By the end of the third quarter, shipment volumes for both product categories increased year over year, showing that, at least for now, the categories can co-exist and grow.

Global market for fitness trackers
More information can be found on the IDC website.

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